The Hate That Hate Produced (Part Duex)

Dog Whistle Politics:  It means putting out a message that, like a high-pitched dog whistle, is only fully audible to those at whom it is directly aimed.  The intention is to make potential supporters sit up and take notice while avoiding offending those to whom the message will not appeal.” – The Economist 

History sure has a way of repeating itself… over and over again.  Especially in an area where honest dialogue never existed.  When it comes to race, America remains for the most part in a state of cowardly denial, is willingly senile, operating within a glass bubble, exposed, but unaware.  As the Trump train powers through American politics and discourse, I am most amused by the rock throwing/hand hiding of not only the other GOP candidates, but many of their supporters who ‘act as if ‘they are put off with The Donald and his rhetoric.  I’ve spent the last eight years attempting to dialogue with them as the Obama presidency continued to reveal the obvious underbelly of white racial rage.  But all I heard was that I was making something out of nothing.  That I was race baiting.  I understand that in many cases privilege is a helluva blinder.  Anytime privilege of any kind is threatened, it feels like discrimination to the preferred beneficiary.  This is true with not only race, but gender, sexuality, class and so forth.  The Obama presidential campaign in 2007 brought to bear the threatened privilege of White America’s fear of Black progress in a post slavery post Jim Crow nation.  As the rhetoric spewed in the months leading up to November the scene played out in both a Twainian and Shakespearean fashion.

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968, you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced bussing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.” — Lee Atwater, Republican Party Strategist  1981

Reagan

This was how it was during the Reagan era.  From the day he announced his campaign on Sunday August 3, 1980  in Philadelphia, MS of all places, he looked to perfect the art of Dog Whistle Code Speech.  In case you didn’t know, Philadelphia, MS in Neshoba County, was the same town where three young civil rights workers; a 21-year-old black Mississippian, James Chaney, and two white New Yorkers, Andrew Goodman, 20, and Michael Schwerner, 24 were murdered on June 21, 1964. The three young men were chased in their car, abducted, shot at close range, then buried in an earthen dam by the local Ku Klux Klan.  The very location indicated a message that Reagan was sending to his white conservative audience.  He chose a significant place where the empirical history of White Supremacy reigned.  In his speech he wasted no time in mentioning ‘welfare reform.  He continued to wax eager the virtues of ‘states rights.’  

I believe in state’s rights; I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level. And I believe that we’ve distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the constitution to that federal establishment. And if I do get the job I’m looking for, I’m going to devote myself to trying to reorder those priorities and to restore to the states and local communities those functions which properly belong there. – Ronald Reagan 1980

States Rights/Decoded = A reference dating back to the conflict of the Civil War between the Union and the Confederate.  The Confederate believed it was the rights of states to decide whether they wanted to own slaves and endorse slavery as an institution.  Southerners who preferred slavery, and subsequently Jim Crow and segregation laws believe the federal government overstepped it’s bounds in undermining what they feel were their ‘states rights.’

Welfare Reform/DecodedA term directed towards poor or middle class whites intended to focus them on poor minorities.  Its purpose is to describe said minorities as ‘takers,’ who are lazy, unmotivated and unproductive while draining the economy, thus making it harder on white people, who are in turn hard workers.  It says nothing of the statistics regarding the percentages of actual welfare recipients.  It only assumes minorities, specifically black folk are the takers.  It’s also limited to individuals, not taking into account any corporations or corporate executives who may benefit from government ‘subsidies.’ The difference in the words ‘subsidies’ vs ‘welfare’ directly determines the response of the hearer. 

Over the last 35 years or so, the dog-whistle style worked pretty well.  Nixon, Reagan, Bushes 1 & 2, and even Clinton benefited from using coded language to project a narrative.  But something happened when Barack Obama became a serious candidate for president.  Coded language slowly began to give way to a more bold and ballistic approach as White anger and fear that the person who would become the face and symbol of leadership in these United States of America could be a black male.

Billboard_Challenging_the_validity_of_Barack_Obama's_Birth_Certificate

One of the first series of racially motivated attacks was the so called ‘birther movement’s’ questioning of Obama’s status as a United States citizen.  Many Whites including now GOP front runner Donald Trump riled that Obama was born in Kenya, East Africa as opposed to Hawaii.  Trump went on to say that he had investigators in Hawaii that would prove conclusively that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii.  Hillary Clinton’s supporters jumped in as well questioning the origin of Obama’s citizenship.  In spite of there never being such evidence presented by Trump, so many White Americans latched on to the conspiracy theory, that it became a thing; so much of a thing that eventually the White House released a copy of the ‘long form’ certificate.  This would not satisfy those who were set on believing that since the day of his birth Barack Obama was raised from birth to infiltrate the White House, take White people’s guns and make America a Muslim state, overturn the constitution and replace it with Sharia Law.  That brings us to our next conspiracy theory; which is that Obama is not a Christian.

In spite of 2016 being the last year of the second term of the Obama presidency, 43% of Whites still believe that Obama is a Muslim. This despite all of the evidence that supports the opposite.  The Obama’s were members of Trinity United Church of Christ for years.  They were married there, and both of their children were baptized at Trinity as well.  Despite that fact that there is no way in hell in 2016 that Obama could possibly hide a Muslim connection, (past or present) this suspension of reality for these White naysayers are simply ways to ostracize Obama to a group that they despise and are afraid of.  They cannot embrace Obama’s Christian faith without embracing him as their spiritual brother.  To continue the lie that he is something other than a Christian, gives them a self deceiving legitimacy in not taking him seriously, rather dismissing every word from his mouth, his authority and even his presence.  No other president or presidential candidate has ever had his/her faith questioned.  Is Christianity even a question now among any of the candidates?

During the McCain/Palin campaign the racial overtones became more and more emboldened.  Palin spoke divisively accusing Obama not being an American, like the White crowds in her audience. She linked Obama with terrorists.  The crowd in turn shouted epitaphs such as, ‘terrorist, off with his head, and kill him!”   It got so ugly and threatening that even McCain himself tried to temper the racial rhetoric by defending Obama as a ‘decent person, a decent family man and a citizen,’ the crowd booed him.  McCain tried to reason with the crowd and get the focus on Obama’s views as opposed to his race.  “We want to fight, and I will fight,” McCain said. “But I will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments, and I will respect him. I don’t mean that has to reduce your ferocity, I just mean to say you have to be respectful.”  McCain was booed again.  What, respect a black man who has the audacity to think he can be OUR president?

Once it became apparent that Obama did indeed win the election and was going to be sworn in.  The rage was real and lay bare expressed through cable news channels.  Critics like Rudy Giuliani became one of the go to guys for disparaging anything Obama.  No matter what the issue was or what The President said or did.  Echoing the voices of White rage the GOP took note to follow the script of de-legitimizing Obama.  The racial rhetoric was starting to become less coded.  The utter disdain utterly vicereal.  Here is a round robin list of just a few examples.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”  2008

South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson“YOU LIE!”  * Shouted during the middle of Obama’s first State of the Union Address.  2009

Newt Gingrich“President Barack Obama deserves to be called, ‘the most successful food stamp president in American history,’ because “47 million Americans are on food stamps.”  2012 *The food stamp reference feeds into the notion that Reagan fed into during his election that black folk were the major recipients of government assistance were poor black people.  This made white people resentful of their own perceived lack of success.  The poor people are takers.  The takers are black.  This despite that fact that when Gingrich made this statement in 2010, only 8 percent received cash welfare, while 30 percent had earnings.  Nearly half of food-stamp beneficiaries are children under 18, and about 8 percent are elderly. About 34 percent of beneficiaries are white, 22 percent are black, 17 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Asian or Native American, and 20 percent “race unknown.”  Gingrich knew that his audience would interpret the myth of who welfare recipients are.  The face of welfare is a black face.

Finger

After initially saying she would not meet President Obama at the airport, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer met The President with a never seen before confrontational finger to the face!

47 Republican senators committed treason against the United States by sending a letter to Iran intending to hinder Obama’s negotiations with Iran regarding a nuclear arms agreement.   2015

None of these extraordinary examples were credited to Obama’s color according to his White detractors.  Even the mantra of, ‘take our country back’ was said to be benignly focused on politics. Instead, any mention of race at all was turned on Obama’s head as being the racist.  Ben Stein called Obama, “The most racist president in American history.”  This despite the fact that previous presidents owned slaves, supported Jim Crow laws and had ties to the KKK.  Anytime Obama mentioned racial injustices such as the killing of unarmed Trayvon Martin, and the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman, he was accused of stirring up racial animus.  If he showed empathy to anything black, he was accused of favoring Blacks.  The irony is, that when Obama acknowledged the dog-whistle style of criticism himself, saying, they (Republicans) are trying to scare you because I don’t look like the other presidents on the dollar bill,” he was accused of playing the race card.  In other words, it was perfectly acceptable for whites to infer to Obama as the Food Stamp president.  They could say, “let’s take America back,” as if he stole it and hid the nation in a crack house somewhere.  They could freely claim all day long that race had absolutely nothing to do with their choice of words.  And yet for him to mention race at all in a fashion that didn’t denigrate black people made him a racist himself, and therefore a threat to White people.

Now we have come full circle.  The conundrum that the GOP face today is that those racial undertones and sub-tweets of rhetoric have come home to roost.  What Donald Trump says openly is what the GOP has established itself on in code that Atwater so eloquently spoke of.  Though Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and others have tried to separate themselves from the niggerization of Trump’s politics.  But they can’t escape the liable they are responsible for.  Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz’s father is responsible for some of the most racially charged diatribes on record.  As Cruz ran for the Senate in 2012, he said, “We need to send Barack Obama back to Chicago. Back to Kenya.”  Ask Ted Cruz, or any other republican if his father’s statements have anything to do with race. Trump would not only acknowledge the obvious, he’s encouraging the white rage by asking his crowds to beat up black people at his rallys.  Law enforcement authorities are arresting the assaulted instead of the ones committing these assaults on national television.  Its to the point now, that as D.L. Hughley said, “If Trump says the N-Word, he going to be president tomorrow.”  Michael Eric Dyson noted that if LBJ’s motto was, ‘The Buck Stops Here,’ For the mainstream GOP the mantra has been for Obama, ‘The Buck Must Be Stopped.’

The GOP would like to make you believe this poisonous racial environment and Trump’s political success isn’t on them.  But it absolutely is.

Memo to those:

When you called Obama weak, while he is out here killing Bin Laden, as well as other key figures in Al Qaeda and ISIS.  You are ungratefully biting the hand that has kept you safe.

When you say that other nations don’t respect us.  What you are really saying is that YOU don’t respect the president.

When you say he is a con man, you are saying he doesn’t act like your stereotypical image of what a nigger is.  (And that he is smarter than you! For his accomplishments have surpassed yours by leaps and bounds)   Those who haven’t had ONE good word to say about this president, in 7 years is fooling no one but themselves.

The birth of Trump is merely the product from 7 years of racially ejaculatory motivated hate.  Quoting Michael Jackson is not appropriate.  The the kid is definitely your son!

 

Don’t Cry for Him Judge Scalia? Conversations and Conflicts of a Judicial Tyrant

Sitting at my computer I got a notification on my phone.  I opened it and said, “Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Found Dead in His Home.”  The moment was surreal.  Kind of like the moment I learned Natalie Cole had died.  For me it just came out of nowhere.  Mouth wide opened I took my phone to where my wife was sitting and just showed her the screen.  She hesitated as well with a look of, “like for real?”  

The next thing I told her that as the members of the GOP find out what we just learned, they will be scrambling as hard as they ever have in order to come up with a talking point about the open position on the court that President Obama has 11 months to fill.  “Make no mistake.  There are emergency meetings and conference calls being set up we sit here to orchestrate a plan.  For them the timing couldn’t be worse.  They are going to block whomever he nominates.

Within minutes my wife and I went to dinner.  By the time we started to eat I saw that Mitch McConnell had demanded that the POTUS not nominate anyone in Scalia’s seat and that if he did, they would block the nomination.  By the time the GOP debate in South Carolina began, the message had been repeated a thousand times.  I started posting my own views on social media.

You know how after every mass shooting republicans never want to talk about gun control?  They say things like, “We haven’t even had the funerals yet and here you are trying to politicize this tragic experience.”  It’s not like they ever want to talk about it regardless of how much time goes by.  But I digress.  I expressed that the man’s body isn’t even cold yet and here they are politicizing his death.  I expressed that right wing conservatives don’t care anything about Scalia.  They only care about what he stood for and what he represented.  They cared that he reinforced their beliefs and helped solidify laws that crushed black people, poor people, gay people, and women.  Their court appointed ace in the hole, their god who brought vengeance on anything that wasn’t rich, Christian and Caucasian was suddenly and without warning taken.  And now just a few hours from him being put in a morgue, the right wing establishment is devouring their god like he’s high priced steak and lobster.

In the midst of this I became fascinated with my own response to finding out Scalia was dead.  Unlike Natalie Cole death, I wasn’t at all sad.  I felt some kind of joy about it.  I’ve had a secret list of 3 people who I’ve said to myself, ” I won’t wish death upon them.  But if they die, I won’t be mad.”  Scalia happened to be on that list.  And no I won’t write the others.  98% of me rejoiced that this tyrant of a man won’t be able to ruin anymore lives, or do any more damage than he’s done beyond previous judgments that the rest of us will have to live with.  2% of me felt kinda bad for the 98%.  Because I am a person who is full of love and compassion, it seemed a tad bit unsettling that I rejoiced.  I could never see Scalia, a man who loved himself perhaps more than any other Supreme Court judge in history actually retiring.  Death was the only way out.

mitch

As I posted short commentaries on Scalia’s court decisions and the GOP’s hateful responses to Obama’s presidency once again, I waited for reactions from people who may agree or disagree with my observations and opinions.  I wondered especially if any of my African-American friends were experiencing the same inward duality that I was.  Black folk in general are raised not to celebrate ones death.  No matter how evil that person is or was.  My guess is that’s related our faith and history in Christianity. It hasn’t been often in my lifetime that a significant oppressive figure had passed on.  I know well the history of assassinations against progressives.  I know of state sponsored murders of people who fought for freedom for me and those who look like me. But when was the last time a figure whose name is so polarizing for black people been so suddenly and permanently removed… even naturally?

I sent text messages to a few friends of mine.  “Dude, Scalia is dead!”  One wrote back, “I see.  Sad.” I responded,  “Sad for who? Not us!”  He responded that loss of live is loss of life.  He did not agree with Scalia judicially or politically.  We exchanged a few more sentences and phrases.  But one of the things I mentioned is that if I did not grieve for Osama Bin Laden when he met his end, how could I grieve a man who has spent his life’s work attempting to destroy every piece of equality and progress we’ve fought to achieve?  It was only a couple months ago when Scalia said in open court that black people needed to go to lesser and slower schools because we were too stupid to function in the ‘big ones.’

As custom, it’s natural to speak good of any figure who holds such a prestigious position.  People have described him as brilliant, colorful, a legal giant.  I wouldn’t use those words.  But I’m not the only one.

Tim Wise put it this way: While I revel in the death of no one, I cannot abide the hagiographic nonsense that is presently being offered by persons across the spectrum about how Scalia was “passionate” and brilliant, ad infinitum. There is nothing brilliant about putrescence, nothing insightful and worthwhile about venality posing as insight. To say that there is nothing unconstitutional about executing innocent people (as he did in fact say), or that it’s OK to imprison persons for “gay sex,” among other things, is never the work of a genius no matter the big words and poetic flair with which they might say it. Those opinions are evil, vile and worthy of utter derision. They are not the work of a genius, but a fetid little man whose moral calibration slouched towards those of Torquemada and the Inquisitors. I feel for his family and mourn their personal loss. And that is the extent of my mourning, as it is the only type of which one such as this is deserving.

More on Scalia’s legacy in this link:

Perhaps some may think my Bin Laden comparison was a stretch.  Though I could argue judicial terrorism on blacks, women, gays and poor people, I can bring it closer to home.  If I lived during The Civil War, would I mourn the death of Robert E. Lee?  How about Jefferson Davis?  These people fought to keep my people in bondage.  If Scalia had the wherewith while he was here, whose to say he wouldn’t bring back slavery?  I can easily see him saying, “If the Founding Fathers wanted slavery to end, they would have indicated this in the text.  Since they didn’t, I don’t see anything unconstitutional about it remaining in tact.”

scalia

I discussed some of this on social media with a very well respected minister Traci Blackmon.  She is as progressive and courageous as Christians go.  She expressed via her Facebook page; “Tonight I offer prayers for the family of Justice Scalia. He was not a friend to me or my people. But he is still God’s child.”   As I write this it has 430 likes.  Some talked about his children and the devastation they must be feeling.  Others were less than sympathetic.  One person’s response in particular touched on my earlier thoughts:  “Yes I know. I felt guilty and unChristian like to have no sadness in his passing, almost a glimmer of happiness. I checked myself and voiced it. But there it is.”  Another responded, “What an example of God’s grace. Thank you for helping me check my own internal feelings. I did not wish him ill, but I am delighted he’s no longer on the bench. I pray that our next justice will have more compassion and understanding.”

Ahhh see where I’m coming from? What is to say the original sentiments were wrong?  Is it possible that it’s natural to delight in the death of your oppressor and not at all unrighteous?  If it is righteous, would I care to pray for the family now that he’s dead?  Does it matter what his family thought of his work?  Did the Jews say prayers for Adolph Hitler’s family members after he died? Did my Christian parents and grandparents believe it properly pious to pray for the family of Alabama Governor George Wallace after he died?  I understand that THEY were not the ones siccing vicious attack dogs on us and spraying us with water hoses while authorizing police to savagely beat us in the public streets.

Where exactly is the line of demarcation?  As I told Traci, I just don’t know.  Proverbs 11:10 says, When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

Regardless, I know what the right wing establishment feel.  Not only will they hold Scalia up as a hero of epic proportions, they want to do everything in their power to replace him with one just like him if not worse.  Someone who hates me, my wife, my mother, my kids, my grand kids. Hoping and praying that this doesn’t happen is not something I am conflicted about at all.

SCOTUS Blog on Recess Appointments to the Supreme Court

 

 

Of Blackness, Presidents and Bald Headed Step Children With No Teeth!

So I have a bit of a rant.  Maybe it’s just a thought, a conundrum of sorts.  Walk with me a bit.

Yesterday I saw an interview with rapper Killer Mike on CNN.  The subject matter was Ferguson, with specifically his reaction to the grand jury decision not to indict the police officer who murdered unarmed teenager Mike Brown. Killer Mike (His rap name for killing the microphone) is intelligent, thoughtful and passionate as he cleverly orating a wide range of thought.  Then a question was asking of him by the reporter:  Should President Obama have visited Ferguson?

This was his response:  “He’s the president of the United States.  Not just 45 million Black people.”

He went on to say that as a black father he wished the president had visited Ferguson.  Then he elaborated, “He has to be hands off in the office of presidency in that way.  But as a Black father and as a Black man, I would hope that when he stepped away from that podium; when he went and sat on the bed next to his wife I would hope that he experiences the same feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that I felt.  Because those feelings are what invigorates you the next day to fight the better fight.” 

Now understand I am not at all offended by one thing that Mike said.  His theme is what many Black Americans have endorsed for the last 6 years.  The reality that in this day and age of psycho racial hatred towards The President because of his skin color, he has to be reticent to extend any sort of helping hand towards people who look like him for fear of being labeled a racist himself.  You see that’s the problem.

A question to ponder: Why would concerning himself with something effecting Black people be racist?  (I’ll get back to that.)

Let’s examine the first sentence: “He’s the president of the United States.  Not just 45 million Black people.”

Last I checked black people ARE a part of the United States.  Since Obama was elected the first time, most intelligent Black folk have given him some latitude understanding that he has to ride a fine line of not appearing too partial towards black struggle for fear of backlash and not getting a second term.  But we never thought that gave him a free pass to ignore us.  Yes there Obama sycophants who are so in love with the idea of a Black president that they don’t dare publicly express any displeasure in his shortcomings or mishaps.  I’ve challenged them often that any president has to be pushed in order to have him pay any attention to your issue.  President Johnson told Martin Luther King that he wanted to pass a civil rights bill, but that King would have to make him do it.  In other words, he needed the pressure in order for him to act.  This is so in President Obama’s case as well.  You actually honor the man and his position by holding him accountable to certain things that you find important enough.   And yet here we are less than two years away from a newly elected president and we are still asking this one to seek comfort in the arms of his wife in the secrecy of his bedroom so as to not offend White folks who disdain him anyway.

I’m not saying whether President Obama should have visited Ferguson or not.  (If not Obama, which president should or would?)  What I am saying is that I don’t believe he should have avoided Ferguson for fear of what his haters would say about it.  I don’t believe he should tip toe around a reality that is as much American as apple pie: racism, police brutality, police cover-ups, and a lack of justice when it comes to the Black lives that millions of Americans from New York to Seattle are boldly proclaiming matter.  To be blunt, Black folks should not have to be treated like bald headed step-children with no teeth.  We are just as American as any other group of people.

Getting back to my question; Why would concerning himself with something effecting Black people be racist?Recently the President signed an executive order on immigration.  This order affects the lives of millions of Latina children.  Some within their community applaud the order.  Some say it doesn’t go far enough in protecting the parents of the children. And yet he signed the order; an order benefiting a specific group of people who were not White.  He did this against the backdrop of the GOP threatening to impeach, prosecute, or shut down the government.  He’s not going to apologize for it either.

That far too many Black people don’t feel we deserve such attention when warranted, we are by default endorsing our own second class citizenship status!  “Sure Mr. President.  It’s OK.  You don’t have to look out for our interest.  We understand.”  I find that attitude seriously problematic.

 

 

 

 

 

In Defense of Religion…

You know it’s bad when I have to start a blog off with this title.  And yet here I am.  Those that know me well know that I don’t claim any brand of religion.  I grew up in various forms of the Christian church.  I’ve had some awesome times while in church focusing on my spiritual life.  I’ve met some life long friends.  I wouldn’t trade my experiences for a life void of it.  And yet I had my reasons for leaving.  I don’t see myself going back.  But my faith and recognition of a supreme being, an architect of this universe has not wavered.  In my view, we are what the rock band The Police called, “Spirits in a Material World.”

Religion has taken some hits as of late.  Comedian and self described atheist Bill Maher makes it his business to go after religion on just about every HBO broadcast show that bears his name.  I agree with probably 90% of what he says about certain religious doctrines, whether it be from Judaism, Christianity or Islam.  (The main three in America)  It’s the other 10% that I don’t agree with that bothers me.

Reza Aslan was right when he said that Maher lacks ‘religious sophistication.’  He tend to lump all ‘religious people’ into a mixing bowl defining them as lunatics and fairy tale believers.  He leaves no room for nuance and complexities.  As Aslan mentioned recently during a commentary from CBS Sunday Morning,

“…But if we’re going to have an honest discussion about religion, let’s first begin by understanding what we’re even talking about when we say the word “religion.  … religion is not just about the things you believe or the rituals you follow. It’s about who you are as a human being — how you see the world and your place in it. …Consider this: around 70 percent of Americans describe themselves as Christian. Now, does that mean 70 percent of Americans go to church on Sundays? Or that 70 percent of Americans read the Bible regularly? Or that 70 percent of Americans could tell you much about Jesus Christ other than he was born in a manger and died on a cross?  … for a great many of that 70 percent, the phrase “I am Christian” is synonymous with “I am American.” In other words, it is a statement of identity, as much as it is a statement of belief.”

bill_maher-Ben-Afleck-AP-HBO

This isn’t just Maher’s shortcoming.  It’s the problem with many atheist who go on the offensive slandering people of differing faiths.

I have been arguing Aslan’s point for years, even when I was in church!   Christianity in action is as vast as the planet we live on.  Christian sects and denominations both emphasize and de-emphasize differing parts of the bible in a way that suits their preferences.  Biblical scriptures have been used as a means to free slaves and justify slavery.  I once stood up in church and said, “There are two different Jesus’ in America. Ones a progressive and the other a white supremacist.”  It’s the same with Muslims and the Koran.  Differing sects value and dismiss aspects of their holy book in a way that is satisfactory to their own internal ethics.  Therefore, it is unsophisticated and indeed pointless to argue religion and religious philosophies as a world view, as opposed to targeted discrimination, crimes,  and ‘human’ atrocities.

As an example of targeting and respect, I take religious folk to task often when I believe they use their religious doctrine to oppress others.  And yet there are times as a sports official that I work in Christian environments.  When I go to a school that happens to pray before sporting events, I don’t have to bow my head.  But I do.  Every prayer in this case revolves around being thankful, praying for the safety of the participants, (children) and often attitudes during competition.  I am for all of these.  I respect the spirit of that prayer.

Religions are neither good nor bad.  It’s people that build or destroy.  Religion is often a justification for either.  I have yet to see a Koran behead a man.   The bible never enslaved anyone.  These are books, whether one believes the words within to be sacred text or not.  Blaming religion for crimes and injustices is like blaming Facebook when a spouse cheats.  If many atheist had their way they would eliminate all religions yesterday.  But that wouldn’t take away the tendency of man to separate, discriminate or oppress one another based on other factors such as class, ethnic background, eye color, height and any other difference we have between one another.  It’s just how we roll.  Humans tend to want to be a part of something. Being a part of a group makes people feel significant and validated.  That’s neither good nor bad. It’s benign.  The issue is a lack of respect for others; dismissing other faiths/beliefs with an, ‘I’m right you’re wrong’ attitude.

People have used religion to justify and execute their own prejudices for thousands of years.  Religion is used as a method  to get rich by many of it’s leaders.  But so are politics.  I’m reticent to curse religion by definition.  Simply because as much that can be said against it, equally true people are religiously motivated to serve humanity and better our world. They feed the poor, visit the sick, fund worthy projects that serve the least of us, and so forth. They pray for others as means of offering comfort and support.

This brings me back to the atheist and the original point of this blog.  They should not be put in a box either.  Some tend to their own business and leave religious folk alone.  But far too many lately have turned into a vicious gang of bullies looking to defame and crush any and everyone who chooses to have faith in something beyond themselves.  Just like a religious zealot, these god-less zealots stand on high pointing a ‘superior’ finger at entire groups who don’t share their views. Their jokes, condescension and ridicule are no more refined as the religious bigots they abhor.

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To those I say:

What makes you so great?  What gives you moral authority?  You who had no say whatsoever in your own existence, when you were born, what family you were born into, or what country.  Neil Degrass Tyson speeches may challenge the life span of the earth as compared to the bible, but they have not nor will they conclude beyond reasonable doubt that there is no supreme being behind what is seen and unseen.   Science is not an enemy to origin, only towards certain dogma.  You can’t explain the origins of LIFE…or why if life reproduces after life, (reproduction) what are the origins of original life. Can you explain intuition if it’s not spiritual?  What is the point of natural life as we know it?  I don’t know and you sure as hell don’t either!  In essence you have FAITH that there is no supreme being.  Scientific discoveries are ever expanding.  But it merely explains what was already there before ‘discovery.’ What is understood today will be expanded upon further or even refuted 25 years from now. And yet you stand unwavering not just against religious dogma, (which I happen to stand with you on) but the existence of supreme altogether. Sorry, you are not exempt in this faith game.

The most effective way to oppose the degradation of people in the name of religion is to target our attacks.  There is no ambiguity when it comes to ISIS for instance.  They are a bunch of rag tag psychopaths. Just because they claim to be Muslim doesn’t mean there is a Muslim problem.  It’s an ISIS problem.  I don’t care what Christians, Muslims or Jews think of homosexuals, black folk and many other issues in society. I do care about actions that hurt, harm or discriminate against people.

For the rest of what is left of civilization as we know it, people are going to believe different things.  Blaming their beliefs solely for their actions is not going to cut it.  I suggest non believers start from where you are and ‘evolve’ in learning to find commonalities.  Educate without all the personal hate.  Enough with your high horse already!  If your dogma can’t handle this, then your atheism is too a religion.

Message to the ‘Bitter’ Black Man

Let me begin with a little background: I love justice, equality and the celebration/respect of diversity.  As such I celebrate the accomplishments of Martin King, Malcolm X, The Black Panther Party movement, Dick Gregory, and Paul Rusesabagina to name a few.  I have marched with Al Sharpton and was friends with the late great Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.  As a matter of fact, I was blessed and privileged to spend a week with Shuttlesworth in his home recording his perspective of his life’s work.  If you don’t know who the man is, dammit Google him! Further I’ve identified with the rap lyrics of Public Enemy!  You might hear me blasting “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” on any given day.  It’s an anthem as far as I’m concerned.

I’m a vivacious reader so I am up on politics, the economy, the incarceration rates of minorities and the very common lack of justice people who look like me receive every day. I saw all this to clarify that I am a free and progressively strong black man.

PE

With that… this is something that I read that I came across on social media regarding the 4th of July: I don’t understand why so many Black people in the United States are wishing so many other Black people in the United State a happy Independence day. Is it just stupidity? Have we really bought into the idea that we should be proud Americans? Now I think that anytime that you are able to spend with family is a good thing, fireworks are pretty and I personally like barbecued chicken. But to believe in the spirit of the 4th of July? You are joking, right?   The author of this text is Runoko Rashidi.  I don’t know Mr. Rashidi.  But this was my response to my friend who posted it.

Naw we ain’t joking Mr. Rashidi. No one is going to disagree with you that black folk were not afforded freedom or ‘independence’ in 1776. Nor are we where we need to be now. YET, I am an American. No one gets to take my part of what I give to this nation nor that of my ancestors. We built this country. We persevered, survived, and advanced through the fire and through the wall. Yes we will have a long way to go, and yet any black person who does not recognize the blessing that it is to live in a country that regardless of the racism and injustice that I fervently fight EVERYDAY has probably not visited many other countries. EVERY nation and every society has it’s issues and challenges. I don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater to enjoy MY piece of this pie. Perspective is everything Mr. Rashidi. Extremes and accusations of stupidity are unnecessary and counterproductive to the larger struggle. Dammit ‘not’ celebrating the 4th of July is the LEAST of ‘solving’ black folks problems in the US of A!

Again, I don’t know Mr. Rashidi.  I am sure he is a positive and loving person who loves black people.  Thus I am not attacking  him.  However, what I have noticed among some of my Black American contemporaries is a bitter disposition on life, America, our roles and responsibilities.  The above is an example.  Another example is what I see from some other Black folk who have no love or respect for President Obama.  I’ve seen in social media phrases like, “f#@! Obama and the United States,’ or other references to the effect of, “I don’t know why people are worshiping Obama.  The country is going to hell.  He hasn’t done nothing for you.”  Some even brag about not voting as if that’s makes one ‘above the system.”  Excuse me? Let’s let’s step away from the microphone for a minute. Here are a few things you need to know about politics:

1) Everything you love and hate about America is the result of politics.  Whether local, regional or national; access to clean water, food, gas/oil, utilities, roads/highways, trash pick up/disposal, the internet, wages, education, technology and so on. Politics is about power and power decides everything!  People spend millions of dollars in order to be in a position to make power moves.  Some do it by running for political positions.  Others spend money to influence those who will hold the positions.

2) There has been an ongoing movement for more than a century to deny, cheat and suppress the vote from people of color.  Regardless of the imperfections within the system, for me to voluntarily divorce myself from having at least some say is beyond dumb!   You have never heard any other group of people say, “I’m not voting because it doesn’t make a difference…”  Hell if it didn’t make a difference we wouldn’t have cases argued in courts all over America!

3) One of the greatest tricks politicians use is to get a group of people in the bad predicament to vote against their own interest because of racism, and rhetoric as to who the real enemies are.  So while we waddle in the mud over small and insignificant  bigotries, the power brokers are fleecing the nation and swinging every conceivable and possible option towards their advantage.  And yet some of us stand ignorantly, pontificating from on high about how we don’t participate in any political processes.   Ask Eric Cantor if black folk’s votes don’t make a difference! To quote the Miami Heat President we need to, “Get a grip!”

If you have F-U money like Prince you can afford to talk that, “I don’t participate in politics”, BS. (…and even HE is pissing on his ancestors who spilled blood to provide a platform for him)  But the majority of us?  Not so much!

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Sure the system ain’t perfect.  But the IDEAS of system are pretty damn good.  It’s people who are corrupted.  And it’s up to people to hold people in political power accountable.   It’s up to us to become part of the solution in all areas of our lives. We can’t be out here majoring on minors; allowing stupid thinking to stand in the way of us doing what we need to do in order to be the very best we can be…which includes being a vital part of every process that can possibly affect us. We have a right to be angry.  I have personally experienced damn near every basic negative effect of racism known to a black man in America;  Employment discrimination, police brutality, and so forth.

Equally true is some of my most trusted friends, allies, and working relationships are with white men, and black and otherwise.  It’s not our skin that draw us together, but our respective states of mind. We have a right to be angry.   And sometimes anger is good. It can provoke action which can provoke changes. We don’t have to agree with everyone on everything in order to do some things together.  Martin King wasn’t universally beloved.  *many black folks despised him in the midst of the civil rights movement* Neither was Malcolm.  Neither was Mandela.  Also, they were not PERFECT men.  If you dig deep enough there are several things within their philosophies, actions and inaction’s that you would quibble with them on. That doesn’t diminish their worth.  You know why they are praised now?  Because they’re dead!  Being dead excuses one from being judged based on current events, discussions and actions.  The longer they are dead, the more they tend to be immortalized and perfected.  The larger point is that people are flawed, even great people.  And so are you!

So why are black folk so hard on the POTUS.  I’m willing to venture most of his Black critics don’t know a damn thing about his presidency, what he has managed to accomplish in spite of the GOP’s racist resentfulness of his occupation of the White House.

And it ain’t like our sh#! don’t stink.  In spite of our introduction to the Americas via the slave trade, we were not in Africa singing Kumbaya when whitey came along to pluck us from utopia.  We had already done our own share of manipulating, dominating and deceiving one another too.   We fought wars among ourselves, took land and so forth.   So have the Spanish, the Polish, The Irish, Germans, Catholics, Protestants, and so forth.  It’s in man’s nature to desire power, use power, and exert power over others.   Give some of us some extra power now and see what we do with it! It’s up to us to bitch about the problems alone or become the part of the solution.

I’m challenging you bitter black man.  Be a part of the solution.  Otherwise you may want to visit places like The Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Haiti, Honduras, Syria, etc.  THEN tell me as you sit on your computer using the internet for Facebook and Twitter in your clean clothes after taking a hot shower eating the food you bought from the local store with the car you drove me how bad it really is.

I am an American.  This is my damn country too.  It’s only 238 years old.  Check your historical geography and you’ll realize that’s pretty damn young.  I am going to work to make the best out of it for myself, my family and my friends!  I hope you bitter black man will participate with me.  The problems may not have started with you, but you still have to own a major part of the solutions.

Round 1 to the Challenger

Full disclosure.  I’ve only watched the first presidential debate once.  Last night when after returning from work before I could turn on the DVR and watch the recording, CSPAN had already begun their replay.  I enjoy watching CSPAN’s version of most any political debate because they don’t have as much hype and sensationalism with their programming.  This is why I never watch anyone’s pre-debate shows either.  I would rather go into the debates and listen to the way things play out without anticipating anything in particular, and let the partisanship bullshit slide by the wayside.

While winding down both mentally and physically I took in the show.  And these are my observations:

1) Mitt Romney was as feisty as a horny young teenager.  He was so excited and wide-eyed,  that if I didn’t know better, I’d say he sniffed a few lines before coming on stage.  The look on his face said from the beginning he was prepared, had a game plan, and was confident he could execute it.  Since he’s had plenty of time to prepare, he had his talking points queued up.  The second portion of his strategy was to bulldoze his way through the moderator, filibuster, redirect the narratives and keep the POTUS on the defensive.  This was a clever strategy and it partially worked.  Sure he lied about a shitload of topics, but that’s besides the point.  Folk like me and every other politically astute viewer noticed the many lies he told regarding the policies he has campaigned on for months.  Romney fork-tongued his way through his presentation as if he were Lord Jeffrey Amherst, and the 47% of us Americans were actually the original Native Americans he was offering a nice set of blankets to in the winter of 1763.  Of course he was going to leave out that little thing about the smallpox.

2) To the novice, much of the this strategy worked.  However, part of it was because the narrator Jim Lehrer got owned by the ‘Mittster!’  Every time Lehrer even suggested that Mitt’s time was up or that it was time to move on, Romney told him to STFU and let him talk.  Lehrer was bitch-slapped to biblical proportions.  I’m sure Lehrer had way more questions on his little cue card than he got out.  In the words of Lauryn Hill, Romney defecated on his Lehrer’s microphone rendering him huddled in the corner naked and in the fetal position.  Lehrer need Mackenzie from The Newsroom to call upon his inner Will McElroy giving him instructions and direction to move him along.  But alas, instead of the microphone of an executive producer, all that we could see in Jim’s ear was Mitt’s dick!  Plain and simple.  Romney even threatened to put Lehrer out of job by cancelling funding for PBS.  How gangsta is that?  Lehrer was all but tossing Romney’s salad as if he was some old felon on Oz looking for protection.  This was really obvious as at one point when Lehrer actually tried to press on the time, it was when the president talked at 1:55 of his two minute time limit.  I just shook my head.

3) The president looked tired in my opinion.  Some of this is understandable in that he does have shit to do being the president and all.  The last time we saw Obama in a debate, it was between he and Senator McCain and neither of them were president.  Therefore they both had ample time to prepare their talking points.  Obama’s moonlighting as a debater came through.  Not that he didn’t make his points and tell the truth.  But in that he often stumbled over his words while doing so.  He wasn’t so professorial as some have said in my opinion, he just wasn’t terribly passionate.  So while he wins on the facts, again his target has to be the people who aren’t astute; Who don’t pay attention to the day to day but are tied up in their own lives until the election comes around.

As an Obama supporter, I ain’t mad at him.  If he’s going to pick a time not to shine then the first debate is definitely the one to do it in.  There are still two more to go.  No one knew how Romney would perform or what his game plan would be coming into the debates, other than him lying and flip flopping.  The president has seen Romney’s best shot.  There is no doubt in my mind about that.  The next time Obama will definitely have his fight face on and be ready for battle.  No way I believe this next moderator is going to be the p#ssy that Lehrer was.  Otherwise, it’s like boxing; you see what the opponent is doing, adjust and fight the fight the way you trained in the first place.  I’m confident that is what we will see in the next two debates.

The President and Gay Marriage

A few words on President Obama and same sex marriage:

First I don’t think it should be necessary for any president to have to speak on something so polarizing unless he/she plans on pursuing policy to either push for or fight against said topic. George W. pursued legislation against gay marriage.  So his personal opinion mattered.  Unless President Obama plans to push legislation, (and so far he hasn’t indicated that he would) I don’t find it necessary that he had to speak on it. 

That said the most important thing is how voters will respond.

I’ve heard much about how his stance one way or the other will affect the election.  Here is my opinion:

If a person were to make a decision to vote for a president or not for the sake of one or two social issues alone, that person is stupid.  First of all, it’s not a president’s primary job to lead social change, but to lead the country in terms of protection, preservation and advancement of the nation he/she leads.  If there are social issues that directly or indirectly affect the economy, our security, or prevent us from our best chance as Americans then the President should lead on those.  This is not to say that the gay rights issue doesn’t fit those criteria.  But again, it will only make a difference if The President pursues policy, not simply his opinion.  President Obama said he would turn back DADT in his campaign.  It wouldn’t have mattered if LBJ thought Black Americans should have a civil rights bill in his heart but refused to press the power of his bully-pulpit.

I’ve heard comments from Black Christian folk who say that they are either going to vote Republican this November or not vote at all simply because of this issue.   Again, that is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.

Number one, regardless of how you feel about gay marriage, there are just too many variables that will affect everyone’s lives whoever becomes president.   Whether gays are allowed to get married or not, it’s only going to change the life of the gay community.  It won’t prevent a straight person’s ability to marry whom they want.  Meanwhile we still have the economy to deal with,  Supreme Court justices, foreign policy etc.  All of which will have a bigger impact on the country.  Gays getting married will not help nor prevent you from getting a job.

Number two,   I saw Roland Martin say on CNN last night that it will be interesting to see whether black conservative preachers will lean towards their “political or prophetic voices” when speaking to their congregations.  (Martin is an ordained Baptist minister)  I thought to myself, “WTF was that supposed to mean?  You mean to tell me that if the president is for gay marriage alone that is a deal breaker?

For all the biblical talk about Adam and Steve, Mitt Romney is a Mormon.  According to the Institute for religious research, Christianity and Mormonism differ on several central core doctrinal beliefs concerning the person of Jesus Christ. 

http://www.irr.org/mit/is-mormonism-christian.html

By their standards, this should trump anything above one moral issue. 

Also Romney was for gay marriage not long ago. He’s only changed his public opinion since courting the Republican nomination.

Does that mean that Christians should stay home and not vote for anybody?  Again that would be stupid.

Regardless of who you choose to vote for, you need to vote for someone as opposed to not participating in the process.  And it would be wise to not isolate anything in particular, but to look at the totality of the policies the candidate would pursue and based on those policies if the nation as a whole is going to be better off.

I challenge you not to be fooled by this idiocy no matter what a preacher says.  I mean what the hell is Eddie Long going to say about it?